Jacob Loves Rachel
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Students will hear the story of Jacob and Rachel.
Story centers on Genesis 29:1-30
I Corinthians 13:7 (TEV), “Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.”
Lesson Objectives: Students will:
- hear about Jacob’s love for Rachel from the perspective of one of the children—perhaps Joseph?
- learn that Jacob felt that God had directed him to Rachel as a wife
- identify with some of the stresses in a “blended” family
- learn that love between a husband and a wife can be a very wonderful thing.
- Read the story ahead of time.
- Gather the materials.
- A copy of the Bible
- This script (or your notes or memory)
- If portraying Joseph, a colorful long vest/coat that could be worn as a costume
- Pencils/journals for each student
Greet the children and introduce yourself.
Open with a prayer.
Introducing the Lesson:
Welcome all the students warmly as they arrive. When they have all gathered, say, “Families come in lots of shapes and sizes, don’t they? Some of you might not have any brothers or sisters, and others may have a lot of them. Some may live with just a mom, or just a dad. Others have both a mom and a dad. Still others might have two sets of parents that they each spend time with, and some maybe live with grandparents. Whenever there are people trying to provide a good, safe, loving home for their children, we can see God working his blessing in that place. God wants each of you to have a loving and safe home, even if your family might look different from some other peoples’ families.
One way that God works to bless families is through the gift of marriage. When a man and a woman promise to be with each other forever as husband and wife, and try to follow God’s will for their marriage, they can be a very special set of friends helping each other through anything that comes. Their friendship and partnership with each other can be a way that God blesses them, and their children, and many other people, too! Today we’re going to hear about a family in the Bible that I’m sure doesn’t look exactly like any of your families. We’re going to hear, though, about a man and woman—a husband and wife—who loved each other very much and how God worked through that special friendship. First, though, let’s begin with prayer.
“Holy God, we thank you for your love for us, and the love that you show us through our families and those who care for us. Be with us today as we learn about the special love that Jacob and Rachel had for one another, and how that became a blessing to others. Let all of God’s people say…AMEN.
“Our guest today is someone that you may have heard about before. He’s quite famous himself in the Old Testament—his name is Joseph. Joseph will tell you a little about his own story, but mostly he’s going to tell you what he remembers about his mom and his dad—Jacob and Rachel. Please help me to welcome “Joseph.”
“Jacob’s Story (Note: Please feel free to “play” with this script, and extemporize as you are comfortable and see fit. If you have been doing the opening, at this point leave the room and come in wearing the multi-colored coat to represent Jacob.
Good morning! Thank you, boys and girls, for that nice welcome. As your teacher told you, my name is Joseph. I am here, though, to tell you the story of my mom and dad—of Jacob and Rachel. My dad, I’m afraid, has a rather bad reputation among some people because he did not treat all of his children equally. I was pretty much his favorite, and it was obvious. That was why my father gave me this beautiful, colorful robe. I wanted to think that he loved me most because I was so great, and so smart, and so good-looking. I know, though, that he loved me most because I reminded him of my mother, Rachel. Most of the other kids in my family were from his other wife, Leah—but I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll tell you about all of that later. First of all, I want to tell you about how my mom and dad met each other, and some of the stories that I was told, and the things that I remember.
Have any of you heard stories about how your mom first met your dad? (allow an opportunity to respond). Many moms and dads first meet each other at school, or at a job, or at church, or some other place that they just happen to be—or sometimes friends introduce them to each other. My dad, though, came to where Mom lived on purpose to find a wife!
Part of it was that my dad, Jacob had had a big fight with his brother, Esau, and felt like he had to get away from him. My grandma Rebecca told my dad, “You’re the age where you should get married and settled down, anyway. Go to the town where my brother, Laban, lives. You can live with him for a while, and maybe there you can find yourself a good wife.”
As my father, Jacob, told the story, he was very nervous when he was coming to the area where his uncle Laban lived. After all, they had never even met each other, though Grandma had told him about his Uncle Laban, the big farmer and rancher. He wondered, “How will I find my uncle, and how will I know who the right woman is to marry? What if I can’t find a good wife?” My father said that he stopped and prayed to God. He asked God to guide him. “Help me to find my mother’s family, God. But help me also to discover a woman that can be my wife--someone that I can love, and that will love me as long as we both live. Bless us both, Lord, with the wisdom to find each other.”
Soon after my father Jacob had said that prayer, he came to a well where some shepherds were waiting for others to come before they poured out water for their sheep. My father asked them if they knew someone named Laban, and could tell him how to get to Laban’s farm place. They said, “Sure, everyone around here knows Laban. We could tell you how to get there, but that’s his daughter Rachel that’s just now coming down the road with her sheep. She’d probably be glad to let you follow her home.”
Dad said that as soon as he saw her, he fell in love. To him, no one else could be so beautiful. God must have been playing with his mind, because she was taking care of sheep and had been out in the hot sun all day. I really doubt that she looked too beautiful, or smelled very good, but anyway that’s the way that dad remembered their meeting. He tried to make a big impression on her by taking the very heavy cover off of the well all by himself. Usually several people worked together to open up the well, but he did it all by himself, and then poured out enough water to take care of her flock of sheep.
He told Rachel who he was, and she was so excited that she ran away immediately to tell her parents. Before too long, she came back with Laban who welcomed my dad and insisted that he stay at their farm.
After a while, my dad spoke to Laban and asked if he could get married to his daughter Rachel. Laban didn’t say yes right away. He said, “There are two problems I see here, Jacob. The first is that in our culture the oldest daughter usually gets married before the younger daughter, and my daughter Leah is not yet married. Maybe you’d like to marry her, instead.”
Jacob said, “Leah is very nice, but Rachel is the one that I love. I believe that God intends for Rachel and I to be together. When I prayed for God to guide me to a wife, Rachel was the one God provided. What is the other problem, Laban?
Laban answered, “Well, I don’t really know you that well yet, Joseph. You seem like a good man, but I want to be careful about anyone that my daughter would get married to. I’ll make you a deal. You work for me for seven years, and then we’ll talk about having a wedding.”
Seven years is a long time, isn’t it? How old are you boys and girls? (allow them to answer. They should be around 7 years, plus or minus 1 or 2). That’s about your whole life so far, isn’t it? Do you think that seemed like long time for my father to wait to get married to my mother? I’m sure it was, but he was so happy that he could get married to Rachel, that it seemed like the time went very fast. He worked very hard for Laban. He took care of his flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, and the animals were very healthy and productive.
After seven years, my father said that he spoke to Laban, reminding him of the promise. Laban said, “Has it already been seven years? Are you sure? Well, I suppose a promise is a promise. We had better plan a wedding.”
My father was so excited! The day of the wedding was perfect, and the bride came down the aisle dressed in a beautiful dress, with a very heavy veil covering her face. In these days a lot of brides don’t even wear veils over their faces, or if they do they are very flimsy so you can see right through them. That wasn’t the case back then. The groom wasn’t supposed to see the bride at all until the wedding was over, so you could not see through her veil! After the bride and the groom exchanged their vows and were declared to be husband and wife, Jacob pulled back the veil and was shocked to see that he had just married Rachel’s sister, Leah!
My dad was very upset! Laban had tricked him. Laban said, “Hey, I told you that the oldest daughter must get married first. No one else had asked to marry Leah, so you got her.” What do you think of that? Was that fair to Jacob, or to Leah, or to Rachel? (allow children to respond)
In your day and man or a woman could get in big trouble if they were married to more than one person at the same time. Back in those days, though, that was thought to be OK, so Laban said, “Be a good husband to Leah. If you also want to marry Rachel, I’ll let you marry her, too.” So, after about a week or so, there was another wedding and my father and mother married each other.
If some of you or some of your friends live in blended families with step-parents or step-brothers and step-sisters, you know that there are good things about it, but it can also be kind of confusing about who is in charge. Family members sometimes argue about who loves whom the most! Imagine if all of the family lived in the same house all the time. That’s what life was like in my household. Leah had a lot of sons, but for many years I was Rachel’s only child.
Then, something wonderful and horrible happened at the same time. My mother, Rachel, had another baby boy. My brother Benjamin was born. He was healthy, and it was wonderful to have a full brother of my own. Something happened, though, as he was born and my mother, Rachel, died! We were all so sad, but I think it was the very hardest on my dad. He had loved her so very, very much.
Aunt Leah became my full-time mom, then, and she was very nice. She and my dad got along fine, and dad was good to all of his boys. It became obvious, though, that he had a special bond to Benjamin and me because we reminded him of our mother. My stepbrothers didn’t like that one bit, and got angry when my dad bought this special, beautiful coat especially for me.
My attitude didn’t help either, I don’t suppose. God had given me the ability to know what dreams meant, and I told my brothers that I had some dreams where they were all bowing down to me, like they were my servants. They thought I considered myself better than them. It also didn’t help that I was kind of a tattletale. I told my dad when my brothers were being lazy, or doing things that they shouldn’t be doing.
Finally, one day they did something absolutely awful to me. They sold me to some slave traders going to Egypt, and they told my father that a wild animal had killed me! That leads to a long, long story that we don’t have time for now, but it has an important ending. God used me when I was in Egypt to interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh, the king, and to predict seven years of time without rain, when no crops would grow. I got put in charge of storing grain while the crops were good, so that when the crops failed no one would starve. I have to believe that this was part of the way that God blessed the world through the love that my mom and dad—Rachel and Jacob—had for each other.
I hope that some day, when you grow up, you boys and girls might pray the way that my dad did and ask God’s help in finding the right person to be your husband or your wife, so that you can know God’s blessing through that very special kind of friendship called marriage.
Thank you for being good listeners! Let’s review a little bit and think about the story that we just heard.
Who remembers how Rachel and Jacob first met? (Jacob prayed for guidance, met Rachel at the well as she came to water her flock of sheep)
What do you think Jacob thought when he pulled back the wedding veil and saw that he had just married Leah, instead of Rachel?
How did Jacob and Rachel’s son, Joseph, help a lot of people? (Prepared Egypt for years without rain or crops by storing food)
How is your family like the family that Joseph grew up in? How is it different?
“Joseph” talked about God blessing him and others through his parents. Have you ever thought about the love that your mom and dad have for you as part of the love that God has for you, since God takes care of you through their love and care? That’s something important to think about!
Copy this month’s memory verse into your journals. Then, draw a picture of your family. Draw a cross over your family as a reminder that God’s love is with you in your family.
Dear God, we thank you for the love that Jacob and Rachel had for each other, and the way that you used their love, through Joseph, to help many people. Be with each of us, with our parents and our families, so that we can help others, and be examples of your love. Let all of God’s children say…AMEN.
A lesson written by Pastor Ted from: Augustana Lutheran Church.
St. James, MN
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